Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad gave the fans plenty of excitement as the Bulldogs took the floor for the first time under head coach Andy Bronkema on Thursday (Oct. 24) night and came away with a 97-92 exhibition victory over visiting Madonna in a shootout at Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 27-point lead in the opening half against the Crusaders and withstood a furious Madonna rally to win their first outing under Bronkema's direction. The exhibition game was the first of three preseason contests for FSU.
Madonna, which reached its national tournament a year ago and returns four starters this campaign, jumped out to an early 13-9 edge only 3:15 into the contest before the Bulldogs dominated the rest of the first half. FSU scored eight-straight points to grab a 21-13 cushion and the advantage grew to as many as 27 points with 1:43 remaining in the half before the
Bulldogs eventually settled for a 59-34 halftime margin.
Newcomer James Chappell, a junior college transfer, sparkled in his Bulldog debut with 17 points and six rebounds in the opening half. FSU also received 21 combined points in the first half from the junior backcourt combination of Deitrich Lever and Drew Lehman.
The game turned in the second half, though, as Madonna heated up. After being limited to only 32.3% shooting in the first half, the Crusaders shot 66.7% over the final 20 minutes to finish at 50.7% for the game.
The Madonna comeback was fueled by standout guard Travis Schuba, who exploded for 35 points in the game, including 18 in the second half. He connected on 10-of-17 shots from the floor with all 10 makes coming from three-point range. In addition, he hit five-of-six free throws.
Madonna whittled away at the Bulldogs lead as the 25-point halftime margin was trimmed to 10 points nearly seven minutes into the second half. Eventually, the Crusaders pulled within a single point at 75-74 with 8:55 to play and the Bulldog lead was never more than five points the rest of the way.
Despite closing the gap, however, the Crusaders never could take the advantage as FSU held onto the lead down the stretch. A five-point FSU lead was cut down to a single point again at 84-83 with 4:34 to go on a three-pointer from Schuba, but FSu answered on the inside with two baskets from sophomore center Jared Stolicker over the next minute to push the margin back to four points.
Ferris State's Lehman gave the Bulldogs a five-point lead with 1:40 left in the contest before Madonna's Fred Williams hit a three-pointer from the corner to cut it down to two points with 1:24 remaining. Again, though, FSU answered as senior Raymoan McAfee took the place of Stolicker and converted a layup underneath with 54 seconds to play.
After a dunk from Williams again made it a two-point cushion, Ferris State ran the clock down inside of 10 seconds when Lever was fouled with only eight seconds left in the contest and three seconds remaining on the shot clock. He hit two free throws to push the lead back to four and Madonna turned the ball over in the closing seconds with Chappell making a
free throw to account for the final margin.
Chappell and Lehman both finished with a team-high 21 points for the Bulldogs while Lever added 15 points and Stolicker scored 12 on the night. FSU also received nine points from sophomore forward Josh Fleming and six from sophomore guard Jibreel Jackson along with McAfee en route to the 97-point performance.
Ferris State shot 64.9% in the first half and finished at 55.6% shooting for the game after totaling a 42.3% figure in the final 20 minutes. FSU was only four-of-16 (25%) from beyond the three-point line compared to Madonna's 51.9% (14-27) figure.
However, FSU posted a decisive margin in both free throw shooting and on the glass. FSU made 23-of-34 (67.6%) free throws compared to the Crusaders' 10-of-12 (83.3%) effort. On the boards, the Bulldogs held a 37-26 edge, which included 14 offensive boards.
McAfee paced the Bulldogs in the rebounding category with 10 caroms, which included six on the offensive glass. Both Chappell and Stolicker added seven boards each with Fleming recording six to help the Ferris State cause.
In addition to Schuba's game-high 35-point performance, the Crusaders also received a strong performance from Williams, who had 27 points. Bobby Naubert chipped in with 12 points and directed the Madonna attack as he distributed 16 assists in a double-double showing.
Ferris State's Lever also had a double-double as he totaled 10 assists to go with his 15 points. Overall, the Crusaders netted 24 helpers to 21 for FSU. The Bulldogs finished with 17 turnovers to 20 for the Crusaders and Ferris State held a 11-10 edge in steals along with a 7-1 advantage in blocked shots which featured three by Chappell.
The Bulldogs outscored Madonna 42-36 in the paint and 14-7 in second chance production to go with a 14-9 margin in fast break scoring. FSU's 11 turnovers also resulted in a 30-25 total in points off turnovers.
Behind Chappell's 21-points effort, the Bulldogs received 36 points off their bench to only 10 for the visitors. That helped the Bulldogs maintain the lead most of the night in a game that featured only two lead changes and was tied six times.
The Bulldogs will continue their preseason slate as Ferris State hosts West Michigan counterpart Davenport on Monday (Oct. 28) night starting at 7 p.m. (ET) inside Wink Arena.